Brad Ziegler: The Best Pitcher You’ve Never Heard Of

Last week, a sports journalist corrected me on the professional wrestler’s name they thought I was messing up.

I’m not saying this to throw anyone under a bus. This person is great at their job. Besides, you probably had no idea who Brad Ziegler was either.

I bet you also didn’t know Ziegler set two Major League records in 2012.

brad-zieglerReally. Two records. You just won’t see them on the back of any baseball cards.

Ziegler, pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks, set the Major League record for highest ground ball rate in Major League history (75.5%) and the lowest fly ball rate in history (7.7%).

The side-armed reliever, who’s pitching style is delightfully reminiscent to Chad Bradford’s (I wrote about Bradford and rapid cognition two years ago) is one of the best and most reliable pitchers in baseball.

If you read my piece on R.A. Dickey, you know I’m a fan of the pitching metric ERA-, which strips away many of the intangibles that affect a pitcher’s ERA by accounting for variables such as defense and Park Factor. For his entire career, Ziegler hasn’t just been above league average, he has been dominant, with a career ERA- of 59 (meaning he’s preventing runs at a rate 41% better than league average since debuting in 2008).

To see why he’s effective, all you need is simple logic: if a hitter hits the ball on the ground three out of every four at-bats, how is he going to hit any home runs, or even singles for that matter? Ziegler induces ground balls like no other.

As a reliever, this makes him invaluable. Ziegler induced 21 double plays last season (tied for 18th in the league). While everyone else on the list needed over 140 innings (besides Derek Lowe, they all needed at least 160), Ziegler did it in just 68 2/3 innings.

When you bring in Ziegler to “stop the bleeding”, he is the equivalent of surgical sutures, whereas most pitchers are a torn shirt sleeve tourniquet. He will stop an opponent’s momentum dead in its tracks.

Still, Ziegler gets no acknowledgement.

It really is a shame that because Ziegler doesn’t throw 95 mph (he’s lucky to crack 85 mph) or won’t win anybody a fantasy baseball championship, one of the best pitchers in the game goes almost completely unnoticed. In fact, much like Bradford, he almost didn’t get the chance.

Ziegler was drafted twice by the Philadelphia Phillies (the 31st round in 2002, and the 20th round in 2003), but they lost their faith and released him a week before the start of the 2004 season. Why? They felt he was not good enough to pitch in Low-A.

Oakland saw something in Ziegler though (big surprise!), and three years later he debuted for the A’s.

How did Ziegler reward their faith? He utterly annihilated the 101 year-old major league record for consecutive scoreless innings to start a major league career. The previous record, 25 innings, had been set by Philadelphia Phillie George McQuillan. Ziegler went on to pitch 39 scoreless before the Tampa Bay Rays finally plated a run.

In a game with endless scenarios, Ziegler provides tangible consistency, and he does it in style. Now he just needs to get the recognition he deserves.



About Pat Suley

Comments

  1. I totally agree. Being an avid Diamondbacks fan I get to see Ziegler quite frequently, and he is always great when he comes in. I’m not worried when he comes out of the bullpen. And he truly is completely under the radar except in Arizona.

  2. Hello there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team
    of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. You have done a wonderful job!

  3. You are so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve read through a single thing like that before.
    So wonderful to discover someone with genuine thoughts on this subject matter.
    Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This
    website is one thing that is needed on the web, someone with some
    originality!

  4. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually
    enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I will be subscribing
    to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently fast.

  5. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post plus the rest of the site is really good.

  6. I’ve been surfing on-line greater than three hours as of late, but
    I by no means discovered any fascinating article like yours.
    It’s lovely price enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers
    made good content material as you probably did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  7. We are a group of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community.

    Your website offered us with useful info to work on. You have
    done a formidable activity and our entire group can be thankful to you.

  8. I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills and
    also with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?

    Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see
    a nice blog like this one these days.

  9. I am glad to be one of several visitors on this great web
    site (:, regards for putting up.

  10. Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it’s truly informative.
    I am going to watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you continue
    this in future. Lots of people will be benefited from your writing.
    Cheers!

  11. I needed to compose you that little observation so as to thank you very
    much yet again with the pleasing suggestions you have provided on this site.
    This is quite strangely generous with you to
    supply easily all that many individuals might have offered for an e-book
    to get some profit on their own, precisely since you could have
    done it if you decided. These secrets in addition served to be the easy way to realize
    that most people have a similar keenness just like mine to see
    great deal more with reference to this issue. I am sure there are a lot more enjoyable moments in the future for people who look over your blog.

  12. I as well conceive thus, perfectly written post!

  13. I really like your writing style, excellent information, regards for putting up :D.

  14. Very good article. I am facing a few of these issues as
    well..

  15. I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I’m
    not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my trouble.
    You are amazing! Thanks!

  16. It’s going to be ending of mine day, however before end I am reading this wonderful paragraph to improve my experience.

  17. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you can do with some pics to drive
    the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is excellent blog.
    A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

  18. Greate post. Keep writing such kind of info on your blog.
    Im really impressed by your blog.[X-N-E-W-L-I-N-S-P-I-N-X]Hi there, You’ve done a great job.
    I will certainly digg it and in my opinion suggest to
    my friends. I’m confident they’ll be benefited from this website.

  19. WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for targeted independent traffic online

  20. I just could not leave your website prior to suggesting
    that I actually loved the standard info an individual supply
    in your visitors? Is gonna be back ceaselessly to inspect new posts

  21. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my web site so i got here to go back the prefer?.I
    am attempting to in finding issues to improve my site!I assume its good enough to make use
    of some of your concepts!!

  22. I do not know whether it’s just me or if everyone else experiencing issues with
    your blog. It seems like some of the text in your content are running
    off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me
    know if this is happening to them too? This could be a issue with my browser because I’ve had this happen before.
    Thank you

  23. Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog
    and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts.

    Any way I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

  24. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but,
    I’d like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you
    might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to
    seeing it improve over time.

  25. Thank you, I’ve just been searching for info about
    this subject for a while and yours is the best I have came upon so far.
    However, what concerning the conclusion? Are you sure about the supply?

  26. Good info. Lucky me I ran across your website by accident (stumbleupon).
    I’ve book marked it for later!

  27. I got what you intend,saved to favorites, very decent
    internet site.

  28. I always emailed this blog post page to all my friends,
    as if like to read it then my friends will too.

  29. Thanks for every one of your effort on this web site.
    My mother delights in carrying out internet research and
    it’s simple to grasp why. We hear all of the
    lively method you offer both useful and interesting tips
    and hints on this website and foster participation from some others about this article so our child is in fact learning a whole lot.
    Take advantage of the rest of the new year.
    You’re carrying out a fabulous job.[X-N-E-W-L-I-N-S-P-I-N-X]I am
    really inspired together with your writing abilities as smartly as with the layout for your weblog.

    Is this a paid subject matter or did you modify it your self?
    Either way stay up the nice high quality writing, it is uncommon to look a great blog like this one today.

  30. I blog quite often and I truly thank you for your information. This article has really
    peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your
    blog and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for
    your RSS feed too.

  31. I got what you mean,bookmarked, very decent web site.

  32. This web site really has all of the information I needed about this
    subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  33. I constantly emailed this web site post page to all my contacts, because
    if like to read it next my friends will too.

Speak Your Mind